Court clears MS patient who used cannabis openly 

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The Independent Online

A disabled man who admitted using cannabis to ease the pain of Multiple Sclerosis was cleared of charges for growing the drug yesterday by a jury that took less than two hours to reach its verdict.

Thomas Yates, 51, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, told Ipswich Crown Court that he had to smoke cannabis because it was the only effective way of reducing his constant pain.

The jury took 90 minutes to accept his defence and reached a unanimous not guilty verdict.

Cannabis and cultivating equipment were found in Mr Yates's house during a police search for a wanted man who had been an acquaintance of his many years ago.l

At first, Mr Yates had saidthat the three upstairs rooms were empty but, when questioned later, he admitted openly that he was growing cannabis. Mr Yates, who now uses morphine - a drug that leaves him feeling sick - is entitled to have his cultivating equipment returned, but the cannabis will be destroyed.

"I know quite a few other MS sufferers who use cannabis. It really works and has no side effects," he said. "It makes your quality of life 100 per cent better. But I'll have to stick to morphine. I know other people who use cannabis are frightened they'll end up in court."

Ben Smith, an official from the UK Cannabis Internet Activists Group, said: "This is about the fifth trial that has ended up like this in recent months. The message must be getting through to the Crown Prosecution Service that it's just a waste of time and money. The law must be changed."

Bev Clydesdale, a welfare officer with the South Suffolk branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, added: "We don't want anyone to break the law. But the laws on cannabis need to be changed to allow people like Mr Yates to use it."

Sally Freeman, for the prosecution, told the court that Mr Yates had broken the law as it stood and that changing the law was not for the courts to decide.

Mr Yates is hoping to take part in Government-sponsored trials in which disabled people would be legally allowed to take tablets made from a cannabis derivative.